Come Nov. 6, there will be five Oklahoma state questions for consideration on the election ballot.

Come Nov. 6, there will be five Oklahoma state questions for consideration on the election ballot.

SQ 793

Perhaps one of the most controversial state questions this round is SQ 793 — a proposal to allow optometrists and opticians to operate in retail stores, like Walmart.

• Support: According to yeson793.com, the state question will “make optical services more accessible, economical and convenient for all Oklahomans.”

• Opposition: Opponents say it gives large retailers too much power and will eventually drive smaller, independent optometrists out of the market. That eliminates competition and could raise prices. Also, they say putting retail optometry in the Oklahoma Constitution limits the legislature’s ability to make changes quickly if there are unintended consequences from the amendment.

SQ 794

Dubbed the Marsy’s Law Crime Victim Rights Amendment, SQ 794 would protect the rights of crime victims equally to those of defendants.

• Support: According to Marsy's Law For Oklahoma, at marsyslaw4ok.com, “We believe victims deserve to have the same protections as those who are accused and convicted. While victims currently enjoy some statutory legal protections, this would expand on those and elevate them to the constitutional level.”

• Opposition: Opponents fear overburdened courts and prosecutors will have to hire additional staff to keep up with cases. In addition, allowing victims and family members to testify at every stage of a court hearing could interfere with a defendant’s right to a fair trial or parole hearing.

SQ 798

SQ 798 would create a joint ticket on the ballot for the office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Currently candidates for the offices campaign separately.

• Support: Supporters say it gives the state’s top leaders a unified vision and better coordination. Combining the two, they argue, would draw more media attention to the secondary office and better inform voters.

• Opposition: Opponents fear combining the ticket gives the Governor too much power. In addition, a governor forced out of office, they say, should be replaced by a lieutenant governor more independent of the outgoing administration.

SQ 800

This measure would create the Oklahoma Vision Fund in the Oklahoma Constitution where five percent of gross production taxes on both oil and gas would be deposited.

• Support: Sen. Ron Sharp said it's a good idea — theoretically.

“Obviously, this would be another method utilized to stabilize the budget by creating a fund that could help provide money for Oklahoma's budget during economic downturns of the energy sector,” he said.

Sharp said the state needs to save for bad times when in good times.

“However,” he said, “we must also provide revenue for just times.”

• Opposition: Opponents say creating yet another trust fund diverts too much state tax money away from Oklahoma’s current needs. They also argue the state should not be paying debt obligations that belong to local governments.

SQ 801

SQ 801, if passed, frees up money constitutionally dedicated for school building maintenance (the Building Fund levy) so it can instead be used for a school district's operational costs.

• Support: Supporters say the change would create more district competition and give them greater spending flexibility. Districts with lower property values could raise teacher salaries to attract highly-qualified teachers.

• Opposition: There is not an increase in revenue for a school district under SQ 801; State Sen. Ron. Sharp said it merely allows a transfer of funds into different accounts.

“The problem with the increase in maintenance costs, such as electricity, natural gas, security, etc.,” he said, “is the $5 million building levy does not currently cover these costs to the districts.”

Using that funding to pay for operational costs would trigger an either/or situation; those dollars would not then be used on maintenance as originally intended.

“All school facilities would suffer from disrepair if this revenue was not available by utilizing it for teacher salaries,” Sharp said.

FFA facilities, school buildings, roofs, all would have problems of maintenance repair, he said.

Learn more

For more information about the state questions, visit https://www.sos.ok.gov/gov/questions.aspx.